I started this blog for several different reasons. I was a film nerd that needed to channel my obsessive movie watching into something constructive. I also was (and am) an aspiring writer who thought (and thinks) that I have a unique voice. I also wanted to become a professional freelancer. All of these things pointed me to making a blog. So I went to wordpress.com one day, picked out a format, thought about what I wanted the blog to be about (I threw around cat videos for a while…), and wrote my first blog post. It was as simple as that. What isn’t so simple is being able to be heard over the multitude of other writers writing about the same things I am. I am still trying to figure that out (and mostly failing…), but I still have a product. A product I could take to anyone and say “Hey I am a writer… Do you want to see my blog?” This was not something that I would have been able to do fifteen to twenty years ago. If I wanted to be a film critic, I could not just start writing about film on a public forum. I had to write sample essays, start queries, and answer for calls for writers until I was able to get into a venue that stuck. Internet has changed so much, not just my field but every other creative field out there. PressPausePlay explores this change that the internet enacted and its effect on the artist community.
The filmmakers get to have some unique conversations with people. Lena Dunham explores how she was able to get noticed and how the advances in technology helped her write and direct a film for so cheap. Moby talks about how the advances in technology has helped to improve his field, but also the drawbacks of these improvements. A writer extolls the virtue of self publishing. But then you have the naysayers. Journalists of music bemoan the inability to track musicians through all the noise the internet puts out everyday. Other interviewees predict a breakdown of art because everyone thinks that they are in fact an artist. Giving them these tools that are so easy to learn, so easy to produce different things does not make the people who are making art worth paying attention to. What is the future going to behold? Are we going to be having this same argument in five, ten or twenty years? Or is the internet culture going to be taken as a given like television, film or radio is now?
This documentary is lovely to look at but it falters in a couple of places. There is too much emphasis on the music industry. The music industry is just one facet that has been severely impacted by the advent of the internet. What about journalism, or movie making, or painting or a myriad of other creative endeavors? I also feel like they barely scratch the surface of any concept and the film just devolves into a series of talking heads followed by a series of beautiful images. All of the people they interview have intensely interesting things to say and yet sometimes you cannot hear it over the imposing score or the sequences that show off the filmmakers’ prowess. And what is up with the product plugs? They barely get into why the Red Camera is important to the new landscape of filmmaking and yet they waste precious minutes in their documentary showing people use the Red camera. And they also decided to plop a promotion for USC in the middle of the film as well. I think that film school vs. learning things on your own is a good debate to have, but not form someone who is obviously just touting USC’s benefits. These two sequences and a couple of others made the rest of the film less important because of the inclusion of them.
This film is but a starter for a debate that will be raging for some time. What will be the effects that the internet will have on the community? Although we are seeing some tangible changes like the value of art going down, the loss of local communities, and the promotion of the DIY spirit, the effects won’t truly be shown for quite some time. So the debate will continue in the many different spaces of the internet, at dinner parties, and during classes at all different kinds of universities. However I am guessing this film will probably not be a major source for anyone.
The life of Liberace would not be the story I would have picked for Steven Soderbergh’s last film. Before watching this film, I didn’t even think that Liberace would be a figure that would make for an interesting film subject. I confess that I knew very little about Liberace. That side of show business was never a section that interested me at all. Why would I care about Las Vegas showmen who wore glitzy costumes and played the slide style piano to an adoring older audiences from middle America who had no inkling of an idea that he was gay although he clearly was? Because even hacks are people, too Maria… Geesh.
Michael Douglas plays Liberace in his waning years. But you could not tell by the way he courts young men, plays in his shows or buys expensive things. He is a vibrant old queen who gets hitched up with Matt Damon’s Scott Thorson. Scott becomes Liberace’s lover almost upon instant meeting and is transformed overnight. Instead of a shy young kid who wants to be a veterinarian, Scott becomes a glitzy beefcake who prances around in Liberace’s palace like he is the queen there. Liberace goes on a spending spree just for him: a brand new house put in his name, all the furnishings that go in it, four cars, tons of gold jewelry including lots of pinky rings and chains, and eventually plastic surgery to make Scott look just like him. That last bit was a little much for me I have to confess. Why would you ever want your lover to look anything like yourself? By the time this event happened, I had witnessed enough extravagance that I was not that surprised by it. Scott went along with everything. The tragedy of the story is not Liberace’s demise, but Scott’s. Having everything handed to him after being abandoned by his mother, took a toll on Scott. The story goes down the typical direction that most biographies of famous people do.
What I liked about this film is Steven Soderbergh’s ability to not judge someone. Liberace is kind of joke. His house is full of gold and diamonds, his taste is gaudy, even his voice and mannerisms are kind of affectation that seemed to be just for show. I would have judged him outright, but then I wouldn’t have been able to make such a truthful film like Soderbergh does here. Despite Liberace’s fame and the sort of crazy circumstances this couple lived in, they still had moments in their relationship that I think more conventional people have. Moments of strife, moments of violence, moments of passion and moments of worry about the other person are all present here. Not only are they present but they are the showcase of the film. It is very clear that Scott not only thought of Liberace as the father figure that he never had, but he was also in love with him and would do anything for him. Sometimes however external circumstances push on us until they influence what our internal feelings are.
If you just read the title of this post and are asking yourself “who?” then you are far from being alone. I didn’t even know who Alan Zweig was until a couple of days ago when I stumbled upon a list. I love lists but I absolutely adore movie lists. As I dig myself deeper and deeper into my movie obsession, I usually find these lists have less and less to offer me. But when it comes to certain genres and pretentious people, I find that I can easily find a few undiscovered gems while perusing that particular list. The current list I am talking about is available on Pitchfork and it is a list about musicians or music related documentaries. There were several on there that I hadn’t heard of before and one of them was Vinyl. Vinyl is about the exploration of vinyl collectors. I am a sucker for films that explore obsessions, especially obsessions that I think is cool. I have my own small vinyl collection and have always fantasized about having an extensive collection. So I watched this film. This is how I discovered Alan Zweig.
Vinyl explores the interviewees obsessions and neurosis behind wanting to collect such an outdated medium. But it didn’t only explore the interviewees lives, but also the life of the filmmaker himself who is also an extensive collector of vinyl. Why do people seem to want to have large collections of stuff? A lot of people in the film is that it is not about the vinyl itself it is about the music. They love to listen to music, but the music can only be on vinyl. Vinyl is the medium where they first discovered their favorite musicians. So vinyl is the only pure way to listen to music. But eventually it does not become about the music, it becomes about the hunt. These people he interviews spend all of their free time, all of their money and all of their lives amassing such an insane amount of records. But there is no judgement about these people because the filmmaker is experiencing the exact same obsession. He wants nothing more than to amass this easy listening library. The tricky thing is that he does not even like easy listening and yet he still feels the need to buy them. I felt a kindred spirit with these interviewees. I know that my obsession to see everything ever put to film, videotape or digital storage is a lot like these people’s need to buy everything Elvis for instance. I know that I am running away from something. What that something is, I would rather not say, but it is there.
Once I finished Vinyl, I researched the film like I always do. I found out that he had a trilogy of sorts that explores one aspect of the filmmaker’s personality. The next entry in his trilogy is I, Curmudgeon. In this documentary, Alan explores his tendency to be a cynic. It is spurred by this old Nike commercial that featured William S. Burroughs. He was talking about it with a group of people and they said they all thought it was cool. He just could not fathom why co opting an image of someone who was such a vile human being in order to sell shoes was cool. So he voiced his opinion and got an adverse reaction. He then goes on to interview other curmudgeon to explore why they came to be so cynical in their lives. A lot of these people that he interviews are the type of people can’t hold their tongue when they know something isn’t right. They think about the world, about the evils that lie in every moment of the day. Again I can relate to this. I have always admired “cranky” people and thought that they see the truth more than people who are truly happy do. Just like many people in this film I have become cynical because of dreams lost already in my short 24 years of life. I am sarcastic and negative about the human race. But this isn’t just me, it is the filmmaker and it is the interviewees. People that are sensitive and lean towards the creative arts seem to also bring a bit of heartache and cynicism with them. They have been hurt and the only way to not get hurt again is hurt that person first. I make fun of strangers that I never met, because deep down inside I want to look or act like that person.
The last film in the trilogy is Lovable. One of the filmmaker’s biggest obsessions is the lack of a partner. When he is making these films he is in his late forties to mid fifties and he is still single. Not for the lack of trying, but he just cannot find someone who is willing to share a life with him and give him children. This seems like the most personal film for him to make and probably the most painful. In order to explore his issues, he decides to interview older women (mid thirties to mid fifties I would say…) who are still single. They talk about what it feels like looking down the road and maybe not having someone to care for you or take you out of a burning building. All of these women seemed to have been alone for an extended amount of time, but they don’t seem desperate. These women are empowered women who just want someone who will share their full lives with them. They don’t necessarily need the companionship, they just want it. One woman describes dating this man for three months. He would come to her house and would never see how well she improved it. This was indicative of the lack of knowledge this man had about her life. She worked hard on her house and she wanted it to be acknowledged by this man. One day one of his friends comes by and immediately starts to ask her about these improvements. She was more than happy to entertain these questions. Later on that night she was talking to her boyfriend and asked about what he thought about his friend asking those questions. He said that he was bored. At that moment I really felt for that woman. Something that she worked really hard on and put a lot of love in goes completely unnoticed by a man who could be a potential soul mate. She of course breaks up with him that night or soon after, but the hurt from that relationship will still be with her when she enters into the next one. Another woman talks about how as she has gotten older she has turned invisible to most men. She talks about this phenomenon that once you are no longer traditionally sexy and young then you are no longer considered valuable in traditional society. I feel like the filmmaker feels the same way about himself. He isn’t the most attractive older man in the world but he still has his qualities that I find attractive and yet he feels like women pass him by without ever noticing his presence. This is the saddest film of this trilogy and yet it is the most up lifting. These women and the filmmaker may not have a companion yet but they still find joy in their life. They don’t want to be pitied by their married or paired up friends and family. They want to be thought of as their own person, still alive and passionate. I hope that every woman in the film and even the filmmaker finds what they are looking for and is happy with their lives.
As you can tell by my little synopses and thoughts on these films, they are not the happiest journeys that you can take. But they are well worth exploring and maybe you find something in them that speaks to you just like I did. You may see some famous people in them, but it is not important that they are famous. All that is important is the ideas and thoughts that they express. All of them are available for free on the wild wild internet. Please seek them out. He is a great documentarian just waiting patiently for you to discover him.
When I was still in college I watched Frankenstein for the first time. I had read the book while I was in high school and had seen later versions of Frankenstein before (why would an english teacher submit our precious teenage minds to Robert de Niro as the Monster? I am scarred for life by that shitty adaptation) but I had never seen the original. I was blown away at how visceral and immediate the original film was. When I was watching the film, I felt my heart beat faster as Dr. Frankenstein brings to life his creature. The immortal lines “It’s Alive! It’s Alive” was so beautifully uttered by such an insane man. I can’t believe it took me this long to watch the sequel.
The sequel takes off right where the previous movie stops. The monster is loose along the country side. He wonders around trying to find something meaningful to him. But all he finds is death, fire, and fear. That is until he hears a blind man play the violin (which I believe is in the book). The blind man has no idea what the creature looks like so he invites him in to share his company. He teaches the creature how to love fire, how to smoke, how to talk and how to appreciate beautiful things like music. This is of course spoiled by the presence of people who can actually see who the creature is. Through dramatic circumstances he is again out on the prowl looking for companionship. This juxtaposed by a mad scientist coming to see the sick Dr. Frankenstein. He shows the doctor the little creatures that he has made through similar techniques. And proposes an idea to make a companion to the creature. This coincides with Dr. Frankenstein’s lover being killed. He wants nothing more than for her to be alive again, so he agrees. Thus the woman version of the monster comes into existence.
The black and white artistry of this film is fascinating. The director treats each scene as dramatically as possible. I loved the deep shadows on the mad scientist who makes small people. He was just as scary as the monster in his lust for scientific quests. I also loved the laboratory. All of the scientific equipment lighting up and charging with such bright light while the bride comes to life just makes the scene so much more enjoyable. But the crowning achievement of the film is when the bride finally comes to life. Her beautiful swaths of white clothing, her electrified hair with streaks of white in them, her menacing face that hisses at any touch is all just right on point. I like many other people have grown up seeing images of this bride. To finally see it in context of the movie was amazing. I immediately wanted to watch the film again. But unfortunately it was on TCM so I can’t… sad face.
I love listening to the How Did This Get Made podcast. Easily their favorite actor on that podcast is Nicholas Cage. He makes such insane choices in his films that he is an easy target to make fun of. And yet he commits so fully to each character that it is hard not to also love him at the same time. I was thinking about his career the other day and wondered what his first crazy movie choice was. A glance at his IMDB profile suggests that he has been doing silly films since close to the start of his career. But one of his most acclaimed early silly movie was Raising Arizona. I have never seen this film, despite being both a Nicholas Cage and a Coen Brothers fan. This is something that I decided to rectify at the soonest possible moment.
Nicholas Cage plays a man who robs convenience stores. But he seems to be very bad at robbing. At one point he didn’t even bring in a gun. He is constantly being sent back to prison, and he is always arraigned by the same beautiful cop. The cop is played by Holly Hunter who is the straight man to Nicholas Cage’s insanity. They fall in love and get married. However soon after they find out that Holly Hunter’s character is barren. They contrive to get a baby through legal means all to no avail. So they resort to an illegal route. A famous man who sells untreated furniture has a wife who has eight babies. Thinking that they had too many to care for them all adequately, they put Nicholas Cage’s prowess for stealing things to work for them by stealing one of the babies. This puts into motion a series of absurd events culminating in the baby getting stolen several different times and then having a shoot out for the baby.
I did have a little trouble following the mayhem. This is really early Coen Brothers, so their ability to put together an effective comedy is not in full effect here. I felt like they took moments and stretched them a little too far to the point where I was bored with a scene, but then they did the opposite with important scenes. It felt really herky jerky to me. However Nicholas Cage is so beautifully over the top with his crazy hair (long before he needed wigs) that the film is still worth watching in my opinion. Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter’s dynamic is really what saves the film for me. They seem to be made for each other. All she wants is a baby and he would do anything to help her achieve that dream. Their back and forth is so cute at times and devastating at others.
If I were you I would only watch this film if you are interested in early crazy Nicholas Cage. This is not a strong Coen brothers film, so if you are looking for that aspect, I would suggest for you to avoid it at all costs. It will be our secret.
I have committed the ultimate film crime. Before I watched this Haneke movie from 1997, I actually watched the Haneke remake from a couple of years ago. You can slap me on the hands if you would like. Enjoying that film is a stretch but I thought it was well worth watching. However upon viewing this original, I realized I must have blocked out most of the violence and sadistic killings. Otherwise why would I have put myself through this torture twice?
This film is brutal. I just want to warn you that this film is very very hard to watch. You come to know the couple through quiet and enriching moments in the car on the way to their lake house. Then you meet these two young men dressed in all white and with gloves on. At first they seem nothing but bumbling idiots, but than they turn ever so slightly until you realize uncomfortably these men are not going to leave these nice people alone. The question is always asked throughout the course of this film by both the characters and the viewers: why are they doing this? They are not getting anything financial out of this (and they definitely don’t need it. They drop hints at several different points that they come from very rich families.). They hint at sexual pleasure but it seems more like a game then actual pleasure. In fact everything they do to this family are just games that you would pull on a mouse. Their answer is the often quoted “why not?”
This film punishes you for watching it. It seems that these two men had watched too much media to feel anything about the mayhem and violence. But they don’t watch any more than you or I do. Are we desensitized by our over exposure of violence? I would say in most cases that we are. I personally have watched extremely violent american and asian movies so much that it is nothing for me to see a spray of blood on the screen. Of course it is different if the filmmaker let you inside the characters’ world as opposed to them just being hit men or screaming teenagers (all of which should die, let’s be honest). It admonishes you for choosing to watch this film. And yet without watching this film, I wouldn’t have thought on a calm and sunny Thursday afternoon about the nature of violence. It gave me that intellectual premise and for that I am grateful. I always welcome challenges to my way of thinking.
Salvador Dali is one of my favorite artists. Although I am very aware that he tried at every turn of his career to grease the wheels of celebrity, he still managed to produce some really innovative and abstract paintings and art pieces. He only ever dabbled in filmmaking, but every time he did the product was trippy and unique. In Spellbound, he designed the dream sequence that Gregory Peck has in the middle of the film. Dozens of eyes, a piano suspended over a marble statue of Ingrid Bergman, a man running down a steep ledge with an exaggerated shadow are all present in this sequence. If you have studied his body of work like I have, you will notice these are the same images that appear time and again in his paintings. But it is remarkable to see them come to life. This sequence is only a couple of minutes sandwiched in a mainstream Hitchcock thriller, but it easily stands out as the best part of the film. I just wish the rest of the film held up under scrutiny like this sequence does.
The main plot of the film involves a woman psychoanalyst at a mental institution. One of her superiors is forced into retirement and in his place comes a young and dashing psychiatrist famous for his work on guilt. She instantly falls in love with this man. However he is not what he claims. A study in psychoanalysis and the intrigue generated by this science, the film falls flat in a couple of key places. The reliance on fundamental aspects of this genre of psychology to solve a simple murder plot is stretched until it is seen through. The revelations they find in the young dashing psychiatrist’s dreams, recollections and unconscious memories would never be reproduced in real life. For instance the dream sequence that Dali designs wouldn’t have ever produced the findings that are deigned from the examination. My usual problem with Hitchcock finds it way into this film. He makes his world so believable but then puts in these twists and turns into the plot that would never ever happen in the world he creates. Most of the time it is negligible and easily forgiven, but this time it really takes you out of the film.
My problems with the plot aside, I actually really liked being around Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck. They seemed at home in their characters and at home with each other. Gregory Peck was just starting out when he acted in this film, but he has the self-assurance that would make his film career fruitful. Ingrid Bergman is never bad in anything. She is easily one of my favorite actresses and I would watch her in anything. In this film she is very believable as a book smart psychoanalyst who closes herself off of emotional involvement for the sake of her career. However Hitchcock usually didn’t think that his women characters should be completely self-reliant. Therefore her character falls for such a troubled man without any question. It kind of annoys me when he does that. He crafts such interesting female characters and then makes them fall in love with such losers.
This isn’t my favorite Hitchcock film, but it also wasn’t terrible. It kept entertained for most of the plot but upon close examination every plot point sort of falls apart. I think this film deems a re watch in order to see if I can find an appreciation for anything outside of the performances and the dream sequence.
Forbidden Planet wasn’t the first science fiction film. It wasn’t the first film to feature flying saucers, robots, other planets, or crazy space costumes. But it was the first science fiction film that a major studio actually put a lot of money in. And man can you tell. Shot in color, sprinkled with ornate sets and background designs, given lively animation, having actresses and actors that actually can act, and featuring an awesome robot, Forbidden Planet was to set the stage for future science fiction blockbusters. Without this film, science fiction would look completely different from what it does. Star Wars, Star Trek, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and countless other science fiction movies and television shows can trace their history back to this film. I always think what it must have been like to watch a monumental film in film history without knowing its influence. Imagine you were one of those people in the test screening for the film. Would have you known then that this film was going to start a trend, a fascination with science fiction? Supposedly the audience reacted so favorably to the film that they didn’t even finish cutting the film or adding any additional score like there was supposed to be. So I guess people did know…
Forbidden Planet takes the Tempest story and places it in on another planet. A spaceship is tasked to investigate an exploratory commission that landed on a faraway planet twenty years ago. When they arrive, they find that everyone in the mission is dead except for a linguist and his daughter. The linguist seems to have made some significant discoveries including knowing how to build a complex robot named Robby. One of the best things about this film, Robby can create food from nowhere, speak in hundreds of different languages, drive a vehicle and show affection for his comrades. This is all due to the result of the linguist finding alien technology from a race that has died out several thousand centuries ago. But if this alien race died out several thousand centuries ago, who killed everyone on the mission except this man? Why is there a crazy invisible force present on the planet mucking everything up? The result is wilder than you think.
No expense was spared in making this film and you can really tell. The sky is painted this vibrant 50’s green. The technology in the film is huge, ornate, and intricate. Anne Francis’ costumes are gorgeous. The score which was the first completely electronic score ever produced gives an eerie feel to every aspect of the plot. In fact I think that score was my favorite part of the film. Every pulse, odd sound and intonation is a stroke of genius. If you have time, I would suggest you listen to just the soundtrack.
I don’t have much else to say about except that you should probably go see it. I only wish I had seen it on the big screen…
The narrative of a once lost film now found and properly restored has always got me to watch the film. Every single time. Gate of Hell was one of those films where I heard about the restoration process before I even knew the plot. One of the first all color Japanese film, the color process over time faded into nothing, leaving the film a pale comparison of its former glory. The people who restored this film did it perfectly. You can see how the director took complete advantage of the color palate, making the women and men’s traditional garb stand out among the traditional Japanese houses. Each color pops and gives off a lasting presence that stays with you. For instance towards the climax of the film, the moon reaches its apex in the sky. The royal blue of the sky accentuated by the golden orb glowing in the middle is breathtaking. But was this mastery of color worth it for this type of story?
This story has its roots in traditional Japanese theater. A classic love triangle, one man (Morito) wants a woman (Kesa) who is already married to another man (Wataru). This man’s love for her consumes him and forces him into tragic circumstances. He is brutal and demanding; she is quiet and unassuming. She resists his affections; he forces them on her. She never once betrays her husband whom she seems to love very much. The husband is calm and naive. He has no idea how far the samurai’s love for his wife has taken him. This is of course his downfall.
The story seems on the surface to be a simple tale of lust and love. Underneath the surface, the director comments on many themes at once, all of which were still plaguing Japanese society at the time. The first and most overt theme is the role of women in society. A Japanese woman is expected to be demure, placating and always submissive to the male counterpart. Although the woman would have been in control of this situation had it taken place anywhere else, she feels like she only has one course of action due to the constraints of her society at the time. Another theme would be warrior versus intellectual. Within its recent history, Japan rose to be a military dominant and then fell with such a crashing and devastating blow. During this time they took being a warrior as being one of the highest callings. Everyone knows what a kamikaze is and for good reason. These men who sacrificed their lives in order for Japan to have an upper hand in battle, shows echoes of a samurai way of life. But they also were very aware of the great gifts given to them either physically or spiritually once they put themselves in harm’s way. Morito put himself willingly in harm’s way and as his reward he wants what normal people cannot have. Wataru on the other hand represents the intellectual. He preaches caution, virtuous behavior and logic. It is logical that no man can take away another man’s wife unless he is willing to give her up, so he does not see Morito’s true threat. Just like the intelligentsia of World War II were unaware of the power of nationalism.
I think this film is worth watching not only for the color process, but also for the many things it says about Japanese society, both ancient and current. If you are not used to samurai films, then you will probably have a rough go of it, but I want you to challenge yourself. Pay attention, learn why the actors portray these characters like they do and you will learn more about the history of Japan then you think you would.
Long before Pearl Harbor, Japan was terrorizing a country that was a lot closer to their homeland. China was an easy target and they conquered them with much bloodshed but little overall resistance. After they were conquered, it came down to the Chinese themselves to guard against insurgents and resistance workers. Many Chinese supported the Japan occupation and therefore became collaborators. But the Chinese did not give up. They infiltrated and tried to take down every possible Chinese figure in command. They didn’t always succeed, but like the French during the German occupation, they fought hard. Lust, Caution tells the story of a young woman recruited by a resistance group and made to be a mistress to one of the most powerful Chinese collaborators out there.
Chia Chi Wong is put into a position where she needs to seduce Mr. Yee in order to assassinate him. Their relationship involves a separation of several years until finally they give in to each other. Mr. Yee is brutal. He is brutal while doing his job interrogating them, he is brutal in his speech, and he is brutal in his love-making. Chia is drawn to him, while also being disgusted by what he does. She does what the resistance group tells her to do, but will she be able to give him up when the time comes?
The mid war cinematography was spot on but it does not call attention to itself. Unlike Farewell, My Concubine, I forgot for long stretches of time what year it was supposed to be. This is a good thing in my book. I don’t want to get bogged down in too much historical details so you can’t see the woods for the trees. I loved the subtly and assurance the camera had as it whisked through Mr. Yee’s house and down the streets of Shanghai.
Ang Lee is no stranger to complicated relationships and man is this a doozy. What I like about this film is that Mr. Lee treats his subjects with respect and with humanity. Mr. Yee may on the outside be a very cold and calculating person, but he is able to show love and be loved by such a beautiful woman. On the flip side of the coin, Chia seems to be easily manipulated by men and soft and sensitive, but she has an inner strength that shows through when she is meeting with her resistance leader. This duality in the two main characters is what kept me watching a very long film. Some people might find it boring if they are not sucked into their psyche, but I found it riveting.